Sydney University winger Guy Porter says any broadcasting foray into the club and schools rugby landscape would be a welcome boost for the Brisbane and Sydney competitions.
As Rugby Australia and Fox Sports consider deepening their commitment to club and schools rugby as part of SANZAAR broadcast negotiations, Porter was preparing for his side’s clash with Brisbane premiers GPS in the Australian Club Championship on Saturday.
The Ballymore game will be broadcast live in the prime time 7.45pm (AEDT) slot on Fox Rugby, while the two matches leading into it, Queensland versus Brumbies in Super W and the club rugby runners-up clash between Warringah and University of Queensland, will also be available live.
Porter said travelling to Queensland for the Ballymore clash was a “privilege” for club players and he felt sure any expansion of the historic interstate and inter-city rivalry would be well supported.
“It’s a brilliant concept,” he said. “It’s definitely a privilege to have it organised, to be flown up to Ballymore and to have it televised live. It’s an awesome concept.”
“I think there’s a little bit of rivalry between the Brisbane club and Sydney club comps, and to have a pre-season game with these stakes attached is a better preparation than just a club trial.
“Warringah are up to play as well, so it will be a really good day of rugby. There’s obviously that rivalry that exists. Any way you can tap into it is an opportunity for sure.”
SANZAAR discussions around the future of Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship are caught up in the ongoing World Rugby Nations Championship negotiations, with the success or otherwise of the international competition a large determinant of what money might exist to spend on extra competitions.
A closer link between the Sydney and Brisbane club competitions has long been mooted as an alternative to the National Rugby Championship, a competition that has been functioning well as a player development pathway but far less successful as a product for rugby fans.
But after a resurgence in interest in club and schoolboys rugby, Fox Sports and RA are open to exploring the potential for broadcast opportunities.
The Queensland Rugby Union currently live stream every GPS first XV match, while Club Rugby TV’s Shute Shield programming has also been a success.
Fox Sports, now in its third year of showing the Club Championship, is also ramping up its interest in all levels of rugby. The Club Championship match will be built into the Super Saturday programming, with Sean Maloney, Stephen Hoiles and former Sevens star Tiana Penitani calling the game, and journalist Nat Yoannidis working sideline at Ballymore.
The game itself comes at a strange time for the teams playing in it. Last year’s premiers face off just a few weeks before the new season starts, meaning team line-ups are vastly different.
But with no professional rugby in Sydney or Brisbane this weekend, and the Waratahs playing on Friday night, all eyes will be on Ballymore, where the maligned silver spoons of the Sydney competition take on the battlers that broke a 22-year drought to claim Brisbane’s Hospital Cup last year.
“It a funny one I guess, becasue it’s both a pre-season game and a fixture with silverware attached,” Porter said.
“There are some gaps definitely from our grand final side in the forward pack, but there’ll be quite a few guys that have first-grade experienece or are Colts coming into grade.
“The opportunity is there for those guys to make the jersey their own between now and when the season starts in three weeks time.”
Saturday March 15, Ballymore: 4pm AEDT 2nd place challenge Warringah vs UQ; 6pm AEDT Super W Qld vs ACT; 7.45pm AEDT Sydney Uni vs GPS Brisbane.
Sydney University: James Kane, Harry Potter, Guy Porter (c), Will McDonnell, Henry Clunies-Ross, Ben Hughes, Banjo Travers, Mitch Whiteley, Jack McCalman, William Cocker, Ratu Rotuisolia, Nick Coaldrake, Wayne Borsak, Tom Horton, Matt Sandell. Res: Declan Moore, Alex Batho, Tom Osborne, Rory Suttor, Hamish Dunbar, Theo Strang, Daniel Poletto, James Armstrong.
GPS: Pat Nicholson, Esera Tapeli Esera, Malonga Konelio, Matt Leider, Chris Kuridrani, DP de Lange, Jordan Lenac, Mitch King, Matt Gicquel, Michael Richards, Dan Gorman (c), Ollie Bartlett, Fred Burke, Maile Ngauamo, Jethro Felemi. Res: Troy Simkin, Emosi Tuqiri, Jonah Pologa, Kieran Johnston, Dan Chui-Clarke, Elliot Turner, Alfonso Horomia, Isaac De Flavis.